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tv   Book Discussion on The Moral Arc  CSPAN  February 17, 2015 6:47am-8:02am EST

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this was the first to propose the idea proportionality. that is, the ought to be a fixed proportion between crimes and punishment. that was a new idea. they invented bad idea. if you want to change human behavior and get people to do something different, rather than just punish them, rather than just justice like give them just
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do, lock them up let's see if we can improve society by changing people by giving them different motivational structures like proportionality. that book is still in print by the way. as well as same kind of arguments that only they can scorcher but also against the death penalty and in europe the death penalty is dead. in the united states it's on its way to extinction. here's some of the more colorful ways that humans have practiced killing each other. this is the earliest portrayal of execution ever found by an archaeologist, something like 20,000 years old. he interprets it as an execution because you have 10 archers and 10 arrows in the guy lying on the ground. this comes from christopher's work on the study of capital punishment almost hunter gatherers today.
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the reason for this is because in order to have a relatively peaceful just society that is stable yet to deal with free riders and bullies. so there's all sorts of ways of dealing with them nonviolently gossiping about them embarrassing them, not inviting them to your party, all sorts of social pressures you could put a people that are not nice. but ultimately pretty much, almost every group practices tactical -- capital punishment. just because you have a large enough populatiopopulatio n that you do if somebody was just a real bastard who would not come around, is not a nice fellow, a real bully. so he's the sort of stories about how they do it and it's an eye-opener. they don't have some of the more techniques, humane techniques like the guillotine or the firing squad or old sparky, the electric chair or the process
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of botched executions through drugs. but instead know, they just take them out for a hunting expedition and they don't come back within. various ways you get rid of him throw him off a cliff action on the head, that sort of thing. that's a fairly barbaric way of dealing with problems like that. the united states death sentences have been collapsing. the granting of death sentences has dropped dramatically since the mid 1990s which was reflecting the crime wave of the '70s and '80s as more and more death penalties were handed out. lagging slightly behind that are the number of executions that are actually carried out. that's also on the decline. as you know probably most criminals on death row by of old age before they're executed, which costs i don't know, something like 100% more to house somebody on death row.
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it's quite a bit more. so i'm predicting these you follow that curve out and the rate that states are changing their policies on the death penalty it would be extinct by the mid-2020s like 2025 23, sometime in there. it will not be would have been in the united states. that's my prediction. the abolition of slavery, of course was driven as we know by quakers in minutes and so on so yes, there were religious people who promoted the abolition of slavery to the rate at which states start to abolish it. but really if you look at what they were inspired by if you looked with the abolitionist wrote about they were primarily inspired by the united states declaration of independence and french revolutions declaration of the rights of man. and so what you see in their literature is talking about of
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equal rights and rights were invented in the 18th century. there's nothing in biblical scripture or holy books that says that slavery is wrong. so in that sense, if the creator of the universe wrote a book that purports to be a guide to morality, how come he never mentioned that enslaving people was wrong? not only does he not mention it, he says here's all the different ways you should do it and how you should treat your slaves and so forth. so it really doesn't come about until enlightenment philosophers created the idea of equal treatment under the law, that people should never be treated as a means to an end but always end to themselves thomas jefferson, john locke and so forth came up with these ideas. so how far is the moral arc event? i claim that today's conservatives are more liberal than liberals were in the 1950s. just think about that for a
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minute. social attitudes, i'm not talking about economic policy budgets and social attitudes of the people that they treat blacks and women and minorities and so forth gays want not animals compared to the 1950s. so i will come back to that in just a moment. there's of course exceptions. what about terrorism? i have to address this because it's a news much every day. it's a problem but i'm not sure if the problem really, what we are told we should be concerned about although it may work by terrorizing government is spending trillions of dollars on saving just a handful of allies but, in fact the real threat was debunked by political scientist erica chenoweth who had this really amazing a data set for the last three course of a century or so of every campaign for political change both violent and nonviolent then track the percentage of
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successful campaigns. to nonviolent campaigns are about twice successful as violent campaigns, and then partially successful again and nonviolent are twice as successful as violent. and then failed attempt at political change, violent campaigns are much more likely to fail. she drags it over time and you can see where it shifts in the 1950s and continues on much more dramatically today. she points out that no terrorist organization has ever overturned a state and establish a new government. and so if we're worried about terrorists like taking over the country or something like that that's not going to happen. even isil is not even really a state although calls itself a state. of course, you could get into power and become a corrupt government like in syria, or in the case what the nazis did that it's different than the terrorist threat.
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in terms as an existential threat i think it's not, unless you want to argue that the spending trillions of dollars to prevent even one death by terrorism, maybe it works to that extent. what about donald sterling trayvon martin, ferguson, these are stories in the news. donald sterling, i'm from l.a., you know the owner of the clippers. it was in the news every night and people like, civil rights leaders today are calling for a crisis intervention that america's are more racist than they've ever been or at least as racist as they were in the 1950s. if anything the donald sterling k. shows quite the opposite, that in private to his mistress he complains about african-americans at his game. most old guys in the 1950s thought like he did come in toward particularly private about the a were pretty vocal about it. my father my bio dad and my
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stepdad were not like donald sterling but they were not particularly quiet. that's how people thought and they don't think like that anymore. trayvon martin case, ferguson, these are tragedies but on the other hand, the police brutality and inner-city crime was much higher in the 1950s 1960s than it is today. max roeser is another great latest source for tracking optimistic trends about human civilization in things like this. has this nice data set on lynchings in the late 1800s, pretty much zeroes out by 1950 and remember when interracial marriage was a big controversy? well, i don't really. it was so long ago but people used to make arguments that blacks and whites should not be allowed to marry but if you look in 1959, 4% of americans
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approved of marriage between blacks and whites. i don't know anybody that even discusses the even anymore. although i am perplexed by the 87% figure. you think there's 13% of americans who said they would not approve of the marriage between a black and white? why isn't 100%? i don't. maybe to just shoot out -- a few outliers. finally, have to address the charlie hebdo messmer. i'm worried about this because i'm a magazine publisher and i don't want to end up like this guy. fortunately, skeptic doesn't deal with islam. we don't do that and portraying famous people in sort of nasty sarcastic satirical ways is not our style but still the freedom to be able to do the is a real issue. so let's address what the real problem is here. i'm going to give you a little quiz, if you remember.
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what did the murderers shout when they killed the staff at the charlie hebdo? moses rocks, jesus saves buddha thrives, atheists rule or à la carte. of course, you know the answer to so this is the elephant in the room. all my liberal friends are sort of ringing their hands about this. we really know what the problem is that we do what is it because we don't want to offend people. liberals are in favor of free speech but liberals are also in favor of not to be offensive. sometimes those will conflict. i think it's good to clarify the what we're criticizing, whatever your style is the mine is just to address claims from a scientific perspective or rational perspective. humor works for other people well. but it's the ideas i think we should be focusing on, not the people. but even saying something like religion is the problem is too
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broad. it doesn't help us understand the particular cause of something. even saying religious extremists are a problem is not correct either. they won't do anything. different if you want kill a bug. they will sort of crawl and the ground, move around. that's extreme but i'm not worried about the changes coming to the skeptic magazine headquarters and causing problems. so it's violent religious extremists, in particular those who hold beliefs that lead to violence, that's the problem. it's the part of the sharia law that leads to violence that think are the ideas we should be focused on debunking bad ideas. the analogy i make and a book by the way is i call it the which theory of causality but if you believe that women cavorting with demons in the middle of the night causes bad weather and crop failures and disease, then you either insane or you live five inches ago when everybody
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believed that. and to the extent were these people immoral for burning women at the state? no, i don't think so. they were mistaken. they believed they were doing something twice moral for helping our group, solving this problem. of course, they did didn't know about rights back in because rights weren't invented but rights would trumpet even if that were true if women can 40 with demons and cause bad weather. we have a deeper principle of human flourishing and equal rights. but nevertheless often i think a lot of moral problems are just factual errors. people think this is a good way to treat people and it's not. or this will have this particular effect and it won't. so was my friend sam harris said, sharia law ideas, islam is the mother load of bad ideas is it crazy to. he was talking to some these ideas. just a few of the percentages, i'm slightly concerned about the
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moral arc bending backwards here in some areas, and these are percentage of muslims who favor enshrining sharia law. i'm just putting these up as get a general sense that this is not a tiny handful of bad apples that we don't really have to worry about. it is something to be concerned about. the higher support for sharia higher where islam is the officially favored religion. 99% in afghanistan, 91% in iraq. 89% and -- these are nontrivial numbers. those who believe sharia is the revealed word of god versus grid by humans, you can see the right side is much bigger and darker than the left side. and then corporal punishment for crime such as theft. sucking this is going backwards
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against the enlightenment idea or those who believe in punishment for adultery not the guys mind you just you know how it works. or sharia, those who support the sharia idea of executing those who leave islam on the right for example, corporal punishment and solar. i know some of these teens and whippings are kind of symbolic. you seize on youtube where the guys are sitting there bent over and they just sort of happen like that. okay. not really punishment but but there are ones where it really happens, where it actually is really painful and destructive. the idea here is that that the moderates are enabling the extremists by holding the simply. yes, i believe in the sharia law law. somebody else is i believe it but i think we should actually execute somebody.
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it's a small step once you believe a bad idea, and that's what i think we should be focused on these bad ideas. to that we should say no, you shall not murder our freedoms. this was the berliner courier the day after the happening. and in the independent additionally powerful -- you've probably seen hundreds of these know the there are all european but there were no american press doing this but in the land of free speech people are terrified about offending people. i think that's a concern. it is a debatable subject. i like this one. will just going to keep criticizing bad ideas and we will publish the very things you don't want people to see. that's how we make progress. so sort of the second part of the talk here is explaining what caused all this good news. i'm willing to acknowledge the potential setbacks but for the
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most part the art is been a big begins with an evolution model. that is expand the moral sphere that begins a concern for the self and jordi immediate kin and kind and then going out to your extended family and then out to your fellow in group members. a basic evolution model gets us out to the yellow portions of the curve, no problem. the first moral principle is to help your can and kind and the second moral principle is reciprocity, i will scratch her back if you scratch my. that takes care of everybody where related to our everybody we know. your genes are more likely to be propagated into the future by helping someone else who's either genetically related to you or is a friend or somebody that will help you when you're in need so you should help them when they're in need, and that's all been worked out mathematically by the biologist. then imagine we have the dark side the bullies and the free riders and so on. we need to adjust that and show we have a dual nature of good
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and evil fairness and justice, helping and hurting, cooperative and competitive, altruistic and greedy. as steve pinker says we have better angels and inner demons. so now i will show you a video clip i think nicely captures this dual nature that we have a sense of want to help somebody and also a sense of not hurt somebody but impose justice on somebody who hurt somebody else. so one day i stumbled across this short video clip. it's only about 20 seconds long when i wasn't watching cat videos. you will see these three people are talking, i don't even know where this is. i think it's in europe summer and the guy on the left reaches out and shoved this will backwards and she stumbles back and i got in the middle reaches out to grab her and he misses her and into the pit she goes. you would think his helping instinct would go in he starts then he stops and then another
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urge bubbles up like that no good bastard, he just called cox this guy twice. and then you see them there was something else i supposed to do. oh, yes. and then runs over and pulls her out of the pit. and then he says something to her like are you okay, or whatever. she acknowledges. he goes back after this guy so you will see that. i will show it twice because there's also guy at the top of the screen who looks like he's wanting to go help this woman and then all of a sudden know he turned and chases this guy. so here we go. ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪
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>> again, watch it again. are you okay? yes. and the of the guy zooms in. we are seeing it a second time. ♪ ♪ ♪ and then wait, there was something else. oh, yeah. then the guy takes off and this guy, he goes after him. are you okay? yes, okay. >> so we have this dual sense a sense of justice, things have to be made right. somebody wrongs you, they need to be taught a lesson or punished. this is part of our nature. and, of course, we have a sense of helping and altruism at august the. there's another video that shows, make the argument this is part of our nature. these are monkeys, and experiment. you may have seen this before in
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which, so these monkeys are taught just classically conditioned to associate these pebbles that they give them with food that they like. so it's like a money. they're given a pebble so it's like i've got the doll and have to give that double back and they get a cucumber or a great. they like grapes better than cucumbers because who doesn't? they will work for the cucumber. is also by the way i write about that their supply and demand curve that goes along with this protective they have wait for office supplies way more the demand, the supply changes and so on. so these are deeply ingrained instincts. but then what you will see is the one on the left he changes the rock and he gets his kick him and he's happy. the one on the right exchanges his rock and he's gets a great. the one of us sees he gets a great for the same price and
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think he's given a cucumber again and you see is not too happy about this. >> she gives a rock and we give her a piece of cucumber. the other one needs give a rock to us and that's what she does. she gets a grape the other one sees that. gets again a cucumber. [laughter] she throws the rock up against the wall. she needs to give it to us.
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[laughter] >> so we all have this instinct, and i can prove it to you but i would just ask you this thought questionquestion but have you ever fantasized about killing someone you don't like? show of hands, be honest come on. that's right. almost all of us at the this is the research from david butz reported in this book the murderer next door why the mind is designed to kill. here's the data city%. males versus females. men are about twice as likely as onewounded frankly think about killing somebody, but the women start to catch up on the occasional. he provide rather colorful examples of this like one guy said he went 80% of the way killing towards a toaster and an hour ago.
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[laughter] >> all right. the point is the mind is designed to kill because where this deep instinct for wanting revenge for people the wrong us. and as pinker says in "the better angels of our nature," the problem is not that we don't have enough around, it is that there's too much morality. that is most homicides for example, about 90% of homicides are moralistic and major. the victim deserved to die.
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so in this sense we all want justice and if there's not a civil state with courts and so forth to adjudicate disputes and properly execute justice, then we are going to do ourselves and that's called self-help justice. so where states are weak or where the people in the community don't believe that the law enforcement is there, that the courts are for they undertake justice themselves and that leads to increase in violence. one of the reasons that our rates of homicides are about eight times higher than europe, theirs is about one per 100,000, ours is eight per 100,000 is because we have a lot of guns and illegal drugs. so if some of the rival gang violates your turf or the deal you had with them, you can go to the police and said that guy is selling illegal drugs and i'm supposed to be selling illegal drugs. you have to sell it yourself and
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that leads to increase in crime. my argument is that ever since the scientific revolution and the light but we been applying the methods of science to solve the social problems. crime is a problem to be solved. homicides are a problem to be solved. war is a problem to be solved. these guys were all scientist. they didn't call themselves that because that word wasn't even used, not even invented until the 1800 they were natural philosophers eyeballed chapter on this. they were all inspired by newton and galileo in william harvey and all the great scientist. they wanted to do in their fields with those guys did in physics and biology, that is apply the methods of science and solving economic political and social problems. one of which was the leviathan state. thomas hobbes book is called one of most important books ever written, the leviathan is has us, social contract, a body of people. so we endow the states with a
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monopoly in the legitimate use of force. so this explains a lot why did ferguson have been? never a good it did to reach inside the cops car and grabbed his gun. that's a violation of not legitimate use of force. carefully on result that's going to happen with it. that's where the kinds of things happen. it's essential to the police warfare, then you have complex like that. but it decreases incentives for attacks, reduces the need for deterrence and they just it replaces self-help justice with criminal justice and replaces the culture of honor, the culture of law. in other words, we need a shadow of enforcement to make sure that we are nice to one another and moral. you can't rely on human nature alone. experiment on altruistic punishment is instructive in this carpet you may be for money with some of these experiments.
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imagine you're a point at a roundtable, each of four players it's $10. the offing is you can make an anonymous conservation come you can put however much you want into the envelope anonymously in the windows how much you gave. now what i'm going to do is whatever amount is in their i'm going to multiply by 1.5 for the, total and then distributed equally amongst everybody. let's say all four of you give 10 bucks. multiplied that by four so that's 40 times 1.5 $60, divided equally so egypt $15 we are all five books richard, okay? what happens is if there's no transparency, anonymous and no way to punish free riders here's what happens. let's say you put five bucks in but the other three players each
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give $10 pics what happens is you at $35 times 1.5 divided by four is $13.12. in other words, if you freeride assisting her cheek just a little bit you can gain an advantage over other people. did people really do that? oh yes. they serve a difficult left side of the graph is the data showing contributions over six rounds to the client fairly quickly. in other words, s&s somebody does it and somebody does it and anybody else sees way the minute, wait a minute, i'm not getting as much as i put them to somebody else some back. i'm going to hold some back and and everybody else, and then the cascades. on the right side they added an element of transparency. we know who gave how much had an opportunity to punish them afterward. people got very generous prosocial, go operative and nice with one another.
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in other words, we need a civil society based on the rule of law. justice has these symbols for a reason. scales for fairer balance, the blindfold so it's not a biased justice system but the sword to enforce the rule, so we need those. we are libertarians here and we don't like any government, i think that's too general, like saying religion is a problem. same thing with the leviathan state. most of the killings, murders of civilians by government happened by just three of the worst leviathans of the tone century. so it's not fair to say that. route kind of made the distinction between his first book death by government telling of how many people been murdered by their own government. it's staggering, in the hundreds of millions. but then he should democracy as a method of nonviolence, some governments are better than others. this was first put forth by
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immanuel kant in his book ironically titled perpetual peace. he said sort of the triangle of peace, democracy, trade and membership and international community. this has been confirmed by many social scientists, political scientists. this was tested using the projects of 2300 militarized interstate disputes from making 16-2001 as the project that assigned the one to discover each democracy found that when both countries are fully democratic conflicts between themand decreased by 50% to win the last democratic member conflicts increased by 100%. so the formulas basically as democracies increase, violence decreases. this is a sliding scale. you can't say no to democracies ever fight each other. yes, they do but they're just less likely to fight them
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autocracies. you can see the decline, the dotted line is the decline of wars, just at the time when democracies surpassed autocracies in the number of states in the world, around 1992. and, of course, we all love this one, the second element of the triangle of peace is trade. trade is good because plunder is a zero-sum. it costs money to steal people's stuff. canada has a lot of nickel. we could invade candidate, it's an open border just take a nickel but it's cheaper to just buy it. trade is nonzero as you know. improving technology allows trade a good and ideas over longer distances, lowers the price, larger number of people are able to benefit from it. the moral concern is that other people then become more valuable alive than dead.
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it's just cheaper to buy from somebody rather than killing them and take it. we've seen a result of this. again i'm not so concerned about the hockey stick of wealth, although would like to point that out, that's a good thing for a lot of reasons. that's the production from little over 6000 to double that by 2030. i found this graph from an economist at stanford projecting into the 21st century about how much richer everybody will be. and he is projecting the 21st century will see more wealth a team led than all previous centuries combined. that will have all sorts of effects or life in general my point here is i should probably point out because of income inequality debate is a popular one, it's true that the rich have gotten richer. this is the right side the top quintile. if you break them down into four parts, you can see that the
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super rich are getting super richer and the rich are getting richer. the bottom didn't get poor. they got richer. although this is a debatable topic i know, but again it's not as bad as it seems. poverty will be extinguished probably by about 2030-2050 according to the gates foundation that tracks this. compared to 182194% of the world lived in poverty and 84% in abject poverty extreme poverty. so that his moral progress. if you put all these together democracy, trade and third one is membership in intergovernmental organizations. they counted the number of ig owes and ran a regression analysis with democracy and trade scores and found democracy favors peace, trade favors peace and membership in into governmental organizations favors peace. a pair of countries are in the top 10th of the skill and
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alter their authority 3% less likely than average concetta militarized dispute in a given year. that's the chart tracking the number of membership countries membership and governmental organizations that the triangle of these increases the probability of peace. you can see a testing a good test case using the comparative method north korea versus south korea. you can see the difference between a democracy and autocracy from space. if the indian their height, about two to three inches shorter, crappy diets and alone and the difference in the per capita gdp of 19600, versus 1100. how would you like a 1750% raise in your standard of living? so to conclude because these are in part economic arguments which are not making, i'm making a different argument, that if we know that starting democracies is good because they're better
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than autocracies, and that's what we ought to do. we ought to be working to expand trade like a cuba but a good idea, and spread democracy whatever we can. democracies place more emphasis on individual rights and liberty than any other form of governance. at last point because i have a discussion my first job was the foundation of right and wrong? i start with the individual and the individual that can suffer and feel pain. raises doubts over the individual suffer. races don't have brains. people have brains that suffer. races don't vote. gingers don't vote. minorities vote, women vote, individuals. it's the individual accounts.
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each of us is to cells the great burden and stores try to keep that higher self in command. every time that lower self acts up and tells us to be wrong let us allow the higher self to tell us that we were made for the stars, created for the everlasting, born for eternity. well, we are, in fact, made from the stars. our adams were forged in the interest of ancient stars it into their lives in spectacular process of the supernova explosions that dispersed those into space where ever they coalesce into new solar systems of planets, life and beings capable of such sublime knowledge and moral wisdom. that's the final census for my book. we are stardust. we are golden. we are billion year old carbon. you know the reference, right?
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so morality is something that carbon atoms can embody given a billion years of evolution. that's the moral arc. thank you. [applause] >> thank you, michael. we will take some questions now. the book is "the moral arc" and we have copies outside, although if we run out it is available at all fine bookstores and all find online booksellers. i will let michael call on people to ask questions. please wait for a microphone to get their and then announce your name and affiliation. >> that guy, and then you can do -- yes. [inaudible] >> maybe start with this one of them.
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>> my name is dave president retired educator and journalist. you lay out such a good case, and yet people don't believe it. so while it's not really necessary your area of expertise i would just be interested to think why you think so? is a religion to holding onto? isn't the fact the 24/7 news cycle for both emphasizes certain things? we can eliminate those -- the average person, i'm a very convincing argument. so why doesn't 100 r. white in 100% of the people by its? >> there was a beautiful talk just a few months ago on that very question. i agree that in part as a byproduct of the nature of the news media and so forth that the report on the bad news. no one reports it we are standing in front of a school and it wasn't one shooting today. the helicopters are standing by. you're only going to the bad news. and then we are more concerned
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about bad things then good things. most of us are risk averse, loss aversion. the way it is phrased by a to promise is that losses for twice as much as gains feelgood. so this is all sorts of passion people are most at risk averse. but it probably pay their evolution it has to be more focused on things that could take us out of the gene pool rather than things that make us feel that much better. because natural selection would have just selected for that. and so those are the two underlying things that i don't think it's really religion per se. i think there is a sense also built into that, whatever team you were on whatever your ideology is, you always want the of the guide to not be doing as well. because that makes our side site looks good and also for fundraising, nonprofits. you can't send a letter out
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saying things he so good and getting better but we don't need human that much but we hope you send someone for overhead and payroll. that's not going to do. a poor starving and dying, or in slavery, bad and getting worse. i know because i run a nonprofit. [laughter] i can't say things are so rational insight is a perfect. -- and science is so perfect. >> congratulations on another excellent book. >> thank you. >> my question is since martin luther king made his famous "i have a dream" speech here in d.c. on the mall, 400 dozen blacks have been killed by other blacks. again there's a demographic issue because population is aging and you can see the crime rate going down across groups. however, utc underlying some value issues but if you take a look at ferguson yes, police
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brutality is outrageous whether that was a case of it or not but i want to ask a question about these underlying value problem that could stifle future progress? by the way i might suggest the same value problem most of the cause is writing an ferguson, that causes industry pathologist and the causes police to be pretty irresponsible of beating people up and doing terrible things. >> what would be the same value? >> actually the same value would be kind of a negligence for individual autonomy and so forth it would be a personal irresponsibility that i'm not responsible for myself, you know there are a number of these factors. i see there are some underlying common factor but certainly if you want to take -- they are clearly factors on both sides that are causing these problems. >> i generally try to look at those things as problems to be solved rather than let's impose a value statement which we are
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giving our opinions about blacks or whatever. so the question is how can we stop this kind of things from happening? we already have been doing that quite a bit. most police have sensitivity training and gun training and so forth. but what happens, and we should never generalize them like a particular case this is all police are which is exactly what happened after ferguson. every case is different. north carolina by the way the grand jury did vote to try that out. it's not like they never do that because it's a racist society. happens all the time. but in the case of ferguson have a couple of different things going on. probably and a lot of these inner cities where maybe that is all bit of racism and the police department, maybe the local black kids art hired of being sort of profiled in targeted and bullied by the police and maybe they just had the.
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maybe michael brown walking down the street and he's in the middle of the street and a cop to move over to the sidewalk. i do we know exactly how he said or what he said but in any case attribute no, i'm not. all of a sudden now you have this problem of, well we are the law enforcement. you have to do what we say and if you don't then we have there's a social problem is we are the enforcers of the rules. if someone does doesn't enforce the rules then you have chaos. that builds up. the moment you reach for a cop's gun, it's over. you are very likely to be shot just because at that point there's something called forward and it takes them forward panic is a sociologist term comments would like your brain just floods your whole brain with a fight or flight syndrome hormones kick in and it is sure by the time. it's like the classic example is the rodney king beating on the 210 freeway in southern california, like a pack of wolves. this was the culmination of a
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long series of things that happened i got these cops all riled up where the frontal cortex that controls the bubbling urges from beneath to be super emotional normally we keep those in check. we don't say what we really think to somebody on the phone or whatever. we just keep it in check. that can be overridden. that's probably what happened in the case of ferguson. i think the of the cases are slightly different. the deeper causes, maybe some poverty, maybe some racism but probably deeper is just the lack of consistency, enforcement of the laws in inner cities perhaps, and maybe i would go for some family issues. there's a breakdown of no fatherhood, no fathers in the home of the black kids but i think something like two or three times worse than it was when moynihan first published that. first i think with 25% were raised without fathers and now
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it's 60 something. i think that's probably a title i although that is alluded incorrect to say but i think if we're just looking for causes of events to change things i think that is one. how about this woman here? microphone is coming. >> janice, i just started a group pro se america. we speed what is it called? >> pro se america. we are disclosing the judiciary the government and elected officials who break the rules of office. we basically have a wall of shame for each one of these. the question is why can't they just stand up and say i'm sorry, i made a mistake? why is it -- just like nixon, he didn't resign because of the crime, it was the cover-up come
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and the coverups are so huge and ridiculous spin the first of all i'm glad you're doing that. that's one way of controlling free riders and those and other people who don't play nice is shame them. >> right. we don't have a choice spent we have to be careful about that. you can shame people online unfairly, internet polling. mistakes were made but not by me. sort of a third person reference, the indirect action, something happened here and i'm sorry if you misinterpreted what you think i said that i didn't, those kind of half-mast apologies we all recognize them for what they are. the answer is cognitive distance to the moment you're committed to a particular thing you're doing, a belief system or an action or you start down that road, it's almost impossible for any of us to back out and change her mind and just admit we were
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wrong. it's just really hard psychologically. carroll explained in this book by that is. the cognitive distance was discovered by psychologist psychologists we went to the top of the mound with the ufo cult in 1954 in chicago to wait for the mother ship to come. on december 21 at midnight, and so he was curious what will happen when the mothership doesn't. so he thought i'm going -- that was a dumb, that was a stupid do. know, in fact they did the opposite they ratcheted up the intensity of the belief and rationalized we miscalculated, it's tomorrow night. when the mothership didn't come to its next year, we forgot to carry the one, or whatever. all doomsday cults do this but they rationalize why they are not wrong but i think it to get back to this loss aversion thing, it hurts to be wrong. we would rather spend doctor for agents why we are not wrong at that ends up costing us more. it's counterintuitive, it's
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irrational but people debate. >> the one thing i i would like us is we're allowing people, if they come to us and say it was a mistake, to reverse. >> good. i hope that's the case. and actually you can show where politicians that get that data they profit from the. celebrities to do something stupid and they go on the tonight show and laugh about it and apologized, they tend to carry on, things are okay. we need to hype that more. so how about here speak was just. i'm from all college. i was going going to ask you to believe there's a causal correlation between the moral arc been think towards justice and a more connected society through technology? you think there is empathy or do you think it's isolating? >> the question on the arc been think in part because of technology. starting with both publications and increasing literacy rates, although after dinner, i think
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this is part of the. i have a whole chapter on iq scores are going up a three-point every 10 years on abstract reasoning portions of the iq test or a passenger, quite amazing. we are counting on you young students to solve those problems like alzheimer's before us baby boomers hit the wall. but in short the increase in the ability to reason abstractly is in part one of the drivers of moral progress because morality has to do with interchangeable perspective and be able to reason away to overriding or emotional impulses. we seem to be any good at that. i have a data set for the end of the book, i'm in the first chapter on experiments with people that read a lot of literature and their ability to mind read facial expressions can interpret what they are and if you other tasks that have to do with the ability for you to purchase up in someone else's
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shoes and since what they are thinking and feeling. so the idea is that the moment you start a novel you're looking at the world through the characters in the novel. it's not you anymore. your brain has been transposed into this fictional characters bring and they you are that person look at the world. that retains the brain and possibly. i think all those technologies that do that is good. let's go to, how about this person right here. then i will go to the back again. >> techie. thomas, i'm a fan of your other books. i'm in biotech. you are making a historical argument about the moral arc. i wondered if you speculate about any structural underpinnings for why that might be the case come if it's true? obviously there are historical answers like religion, theology et cetera. i wonder why under certain circumstances tit-for-tat is a winning strategy, vis-à-vis the other strategy. why do you think the moral arc bends towards justice if in
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fact, it historically seems to be doing that? >> well, i touched on some of it, just the invention of rights, the enlightenment emphasis on let's treated these things as problems to be solved using science and reason rather than the glory of the nation or some other just emotional aspect of the human condition. that transition took centuries but that's away. i think that's one of the underlying ones. of course, political and economic changes are underlying some of that but even those are rational reason through scientifically tested ideas. just shows you why democracies are better, how much do markets are better than autocracies using data. we ought to be more of that. even economics, i didn't mention the french physiocrats all pattern themselves after these scientists and the scientific revolution. in fact, they consciously made
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an analogy with william harvey's circulation of the blood, that money siblings or any come is like blood circulates through a human body and if things constricted our block, it's not healthy for the body, too much government restriction on the economy blocks the flow of capital through a country and impedes economic progress and so the those are all arguments made from a rational scientific perspective, like we should just treat the economy as a problem. it's just a scientific problem. let's figure out the best way to structure it so we are all more prosperous but that i would argue is really the big driver more than anything else. okay, let's go to the back. >> thank you very much for your book. i just wanted to see what would be your comment on this
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statement that says that moral is a figurative language of -- [inaudible] spent i'm afraid i didn't get that last part's put a statement says moral is a figurative language of passion spent yes moral is figurative language of passion. okay, what i'm talking about is we default moral emotions. so emotions evolve issues proxies to drive an organ of to do something to behave in a certain way. you don't have to compute calories and someone. you just feel hungry. and that a notion of hunger drives you to seek out food. the species has to propagate itself through sex so we have a sexual drive. emotions, feelings, you don't have to catch a the curves. you don't have to do any of that. you just look around and don't i like that and i have the
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feeling. hunger, the sexual impulse these are all basic emotions that drive organisms selected by natural selection. moral emotions are the same way jealousy is an emotion to lead people to make a guard so your genetic conservation is not cover my by a violation of your relationship with your significant other. anger is an emotion that we showed to deal with a justices and defend the people want to treat you, you have to strike back. kicking a rock and kicking another organism to the other organism can kick back. you have to be careful what you are taking. those emotions are there for a reason. i treat things like violence and homicide not as a defect in our nature but it's part of our nature. you have to be able to stand up and fight back. that's part of being a social primate. the whole point of a civil society is structured in a way that keeps in check the violent
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impulses that overrun thanks and can cause too many problems and it tenuate a good thing makes people more cooperative. let's go with you right there. >> i'm a member of the national -- skeptics but one thing that pains me to read about is the belief in witchcraft which is still very strong in many parts of africa. it leads to kidnapping children for their body parts and a lot of people, but the basic idea that keeps a lot of them for is if someone summit succeeds, the people around them not succeeding think that's because they have stolen their good luck from them. seriously, this goes way back in the literature. and i was thinking when europe finally got away, i think it wasn't just that they started
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thinking we really shouldn't burn all women we shouldn't drown strange people. you can read in the discovery, and some of the trials the judges basically didn't believe witchcraft was a real phenomenon to they were beginning to think scientifically. and so can you just reflect on, honey, this was a science changed -- >> i have a story in the book about this german, mayor of the town or whatever he was magistrate of this german town who started thinking like you they be this witchcraft thing maybe it's a bunch of baloney and maybe torturing these women is not such a good idea. but his to just do it priest in charge of torture the whole inquisition, they were total believers. so took the two of them down to where they had this woman who was being tortured and he
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brought them in there and said, you know, lady i have strong feelings that these two men here are warlocks. i think they might've been cavorting with satan. executioner, crank up the torture we'll just a little bit more. what do you say? what you think? oh yes i have seen both of them. they were cavorting with the devil. they turn into goats. she went on to on and they were standing there going i'll. to think this is still a good idea? that was like an early experiment. test the hypothesis. he wrote a book about that and that started the abolition of witchcraft in the european witch craze. so anyway, that's, august the which is? of course, impoverishment, lack of education with superstition the the solution get them all wealthier so they can afford education and that will all just go away. >> let's take one more question. >> how about you?
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>> richard kennedy, retired and lives. one of the earlier books, why people -- [inaudible] i'm trying to get marijuana legalized in virginia. it was pretty clear when i was in graduate school it's a less dangerous drug and than alcohol or tobacco. i'm wondering from your perspective or work you've done is there any reason why it is taken so long for that too steep into the general consciousness because it's just social and political. there's sort of a pure constricted there but then why alcohol? its operating system. again, what you go down this path, we've been against it for half a century. the law and solar, too committed to the war on drugs. why not just say what loss change our minds? teeple rarely just change the my
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it's a i was wrong. i do think that is going to come about the i think the decriminalization of marijuana is probably next after the gay-rights and then us atheists, it's not that i feel oppressed. i live in l.a. come on. [laughter] but you these tropes about atheists don't have morals and they shouldn't be citizens, this kind of -- we need to debunk those silly myths but that's all happening very quick. i gave you biblical passages in the support. [laughter] [inaudible] >> great. >> thank you michael. thank you all for being here, for coming. [applause] >> michael shermer would be glad to sign copies of the book and we invite you all to go up to the second level for lunch. you can take the spiral staircase or the elevator. there will be books up there and there are also restrooms up on the second floor on your right.
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thanks for coming. >> thank you again. [inaudible conversations] >> you are watching booktv on c-span2 with top notch and -- top nonfiction authors and we can. booktv television for serious readers. c-span2 providing live coverage of u.s. senate floor proceedings and key public policy sense and every weekend a booktv, now for 15 years the only television network devoted to nonfiction books and authors. ..
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speakers will include the former u.s. ambassador to ukraine. live coverage gets underway at 12:30 p.m. eastern on c-span2. about next the discussion on governance and leadership in the world from the united states to europe to asia. part of a conscience -- conference from the rand corporation speakers include francis fukuyama and banking regulator sheila bair. this is about an hour. >> hello welcome back. i am michael rich, president and ceo of the rand corporation. the focus of the last session was the middle east, foreign policy more generally there,

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